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  1. ☮♫♥ Gay Male
    IGN: FrozNlite
    Server: Khaini
    Level: 200
    Job: F/P ArchMage
    Guild: Brazzers
    Alliance: Heroes

    Default Heart of Darkness

    Joseph Conrad's famous novel, among others, brings up an age-old question of humanity, to which I'm curious as to how Southperrians would answer:

    Are human beings inherently good or evil?

    Related questions:

    Are we born good or bad?
    If so, can we change?

    Take it away!

  2. Default Re: Heart of Darkness

    I'm sure this isn't the most in depth response for that question, nor the only response that there should be for this particular topic; but here's my take on things. Also, I have not read aforementioned book.

    Good and Evil are all relative. There is no such thing as inherent evil, nor is there such a thing as inherit good. We are born with the simple instinct of self-preservation; which can be viewed by some as greed, and by others as something completely natural for living things. Attributes like this "greed" can be taken to the excess to be viewed as an inherent evil, however in the minds of those who perpetuate it, it is just another part of their self preservation. I don't believe this is limited to humans though. Predators in the wild kill all the time in order to sustain themselves, and given the opportunity, will overindulge as well. Those who see it as simple violence and feel badly for those who are slain will hold their perspective, and those who see it as self-preservation of the predator itself will see it that way. Once again, coming down to perspective (again, in my opinion).

    Even if concepts of good and evil could be solidly established, I feel that they are inherently tied to one another, much as the concepts of love and hate are. If someone was to take away what you love because they love it as well and had the means to do so, the natural response is to hate the one who took it away from you. We cannot simply have one side of things; the other comes with it just as shadows follow light. Without these emotions, and the potential to swing to the extremes of either side, we would end up being robots.

    That isn't all to say that there hasn't been a reasonable average to good and evil to society at large; just that it is still relative to our lives and the era we live in and not an absolute.

    tl;dr All is relative. You cannot make everyone happy simultaneously. Seeking what brings benefits to the largest sectors of society is generally what is considered "good".

  3. ~Thrust Into It~ Straight Male
    IGN: Sn1perel1te
    Server: Bellocan
    Level: 152
    Job: Old School BM
    Guild: EbonSol
    Alliance: In One

    Default Re: Heart of Darkness

    I feel we have a capacity as humans to be either good or either. Whether we are born one way or another, I would say we are not, and that it is through our lives that we shift to being good or evil. I would further go to say that there is almost no neutral ground in the matter, because neutrality is a fine line between the two. It isnt 100% out of the question to be completely neutral, but the chances of staying neutral are slim.

  4. Nuclear testing facility Straight Male
    IGN: VerrKol
    Server: Zenith
    Level: 204
    Job: Bowmaster
    Guild: LegacyReborn
    Farm: Kolville

    Default Re: Heart of Darkness

    I read the book back in high school, but can't say I really enjoyed it.

    People are born neutral or at least your average "healthy" individual is. I'd make some exceptions for certain medical mental deficiencies, but there occurrence is seldom enough that I will ignore them.

    John Locke's 'tabula rosa' probably describes it best at least in theory. However, society has an incredible amount of influence, especially on the young. Family and the rest of society shape, at least initially, a person's morality according to existing social norms and values.

    Later as a person's individual identity develops, a person departs from merely reflecting societal values to choosing there own system of belief. Whether that philosophy is good or evil is certainly open for debate, but I do think it can be said with relative certainty that there is a choice (or several) involved. That choice means there is the ability to change. It may be unreasonably difficult, but I don't think it is ever impossible.

    Probably the most important thing to realize about good vs evil is that no real villain ever believes that he or she is evil. Read the Darth Bane trilogy for a great example of an antihero.

  5. Default Re: Heart of Darkness

    I haven't read the book cited.

    Human beings are born inherently self-serving because human babies are completely useless and need adults to look after them for several years before they can start to begin to fend and think for themselves.

    We already have generally agreed definitions of "good" and "evil" in society, where "good" typically involves conscious actions for the benefit of others/everyone and "evil" typically involves conscious actions at the expense of others. Neither definition applies at birth since babies are little more than squishy balls of compressed raw instinct with no concept of either.

    Too many variables dictate the kind of person someone develops into, most of which a child (at their most malleable) typically has no control over, but yes, undesirable behaviour can be suppressed or removed completely if done right.

    What's your view TS? Awfully scant OP.

  6. Deluxe Refrigerator
    IGN: MrTouchnGo
    Server: Bera
    Level: 199
    Job: Shadower
    Guild: Ivalice
    Alliance: Bastion

    Default Re: Heart of Darkness

    Children are complete selfish psychopaths, so I'd say born evil. Of course, childhood and stories are all about teaching morals and whatnot.

  7. Can of Soup Male
    IGN: LunaMimosa
    Server: El Nido
    Level: 134
    Job: OP Elf Queen
    Guild: Some no-name guild
    Alliance: Read above.

    Default Re: Heart of Darkness

    ^ This. I mean, think about it... what's the one thing kids learn how to do very early that no one teaches?

    How to Lie. For gain or to avoid punishment, a child almost can instinctively apply that ability.

    I can't really say good or bad applies to people due to the variation of standard, HOWEVER, i feel maybe we can define it in a general, more quantifiable way for the sake of the disscussion , most behavior tends have an effect on two categories: Benefit/Hindrance to our own interests, and Benefit/Hindrance to others interests.

    Most 'evil' behavior involves Benefit to self whilst being a Hindrance to others. Most 'good' behavior involves Benefit to others, regardless of whether its a Benefit or a Hindrance to ourselves. Neutral or behavior no one minds is usually Self Beneficial, while having no effect on others.

    I believe we're born naturally with a focus on our own interests. That does not neccessarily makes us evil: it makes us ignorant. The ability to be aware of the interest/well being of others, is more or less usually taught. Even outside of humans, the only animals that act to protect their kind, or willingly put themselves in danger for the sake of another are those that are raised by parents, usually mammals, and such behavior is actually taught by the parents.

    So with that deduction, I feel that good and evil, as defined by the effect of the well-being of others in our actions, is not inherited, but taught/learned. We are inherently born innocent/ignorant of the benefit/hinderance of the well being of others.

  8. Default Re: Heart of Darkness

    I couldn't agree with you more. The way I see it, the concept of morality initially stemmed from self-awareness, not necessarily as an intrinsic aspect we're born with. The moment we begin to analyze concepts such as "Who am I?" and "What do I want to achieve in life?" we develop the "foundation" of morality.

    At that point onwards, whether or not we are aware of it, our minds will divide scenarios and experiences into two fields; the first field will contain scenarios that are counter-intuitive with our desire to live, the achievements we want to pursue, or that contradict our ability to control those intentions, and the second field of scenarios that result in gratification, satisfaction, or seem to actually reinforce our desire to live and our desire to achieve something tangible will go into another. These serve as the "building blocks" of morality.

    The mind is a prepetually-calculating machine, and as you exist, it will always be plugging in events and scenarios in your life, blending them in with circumspectual events and perceptions. The opinions of those around you, the influences you receive and absorb consciously and subconsciously, the way you associate those events with those base desires, and various other factors construct that morality.

    Because there is no intrinsic degree of right or wrong, nor is there any way to fully control how you perceive events, there can be no such extreme.... But that's just as I see it...

  9. Default Re: Heart of Darkness

    I think most of humanity is born with basic fears, and we guide our decisions based on avoiding those fears. A lot of people will do whatever it takes, and I think that's why it sounds like "being inherritently evil." I may be completely wrong, but I've just noticed A LOT of society is extremely insecure and afraid and I think it goes back to the basic instincts of life to just survive.

    My two cents.

  10. Default Re: Heart of Darkness

    As a species; No.
    As individuals; Potentially.

    It's arguable whether a person can be truly evil if they think they're doing the things they do for right/justified reasons or whether they have to know they're doing things that are bad/wrong but choose to do them anyway.

    In either case exists the potential to be instinctively more aggressive, less compassionate, more self centered, outright sociopathic and similar based on heredity.
    There also exists the potential to be more compassionate, cautious, group focused and forward thinking due to heredity.
    Those sets of features could be considered the precursors towards typically accepted definitions of behaviors that are good/evil and without any external influences necessitating them being overridden. To answer part b), yes it's possible to change.

    Even the most caring and loving and naturally genial person can become a cold blooded killer if they believe it righteous. To an external observer, particularly their 'vicitms' they would meet the criteria of evil; Right down to knowing it's morally wrong to kill but doing it anyway because they feel their imperative supercedes their morality. It's also possible for them to be broken by an event to the point where they no longer have the capacity to care about adherence to a moral compass.

    A person predisposed towards aggression and violence but with a clear understanding of the ramifications of their impulses and a decent sense of self preservation can moderate their behavior sufficiently enough to not be openly evil on a notable scale, or channel it into other activities, but the underlying urges and feelings wouldn't necessarily be gone, so it depends on whether you consider evil in the act or the thought. They can still be a seething ball of hate while living within the facade of societal normalcy.

    For these reasons I ultimately find the concept of good and evil meaningless.

    People are people. They can do bad things. They can do good things. They will be driven by internal urges and external influences. They may act in ways they don't wish. They may want to do things they can't. Almost no one lives as their own ideal self because almost no life is given situations in which ideal answers are possible.

  11. Default Re: Heart of Darkness

    Evil? No. Selfish? Yes, with the main exception being one's children/immediate family.

    We're animals. We're hardwired by nature to attempt to survive and to further our own interests. Some people do take this too far, but to truly qualify as evil a person would have to be doing something for the sake of malice or spite. If we were hardwired as a species to be inherently evil, we'd have destroyed ourselves long ago. Fortunately for us as a species, we tend to value community enough that our selfishness hasn't caused us to fall apart.

    Also, I hated that book. Had to read it in high school, didn't much care for it.

  12. Default Re: Heart of Darkness

    To answer that question, you would first need to define 'good' and 'evil'. There are multiple different interpretations of those concepts depending on culture and personal beliefs, so you would be hard-pressed to get further than that first step.

    Unless there is a general consensus on what 'good' and 'evil' are exactly you can't prove if something has or doesn't have it.

  13. Default Re: Heart of Darkness

    Glad to see responses further than my own showing that I wasn't completely off. A diverse set of responses is good too, since debates like this shouldn't have one true answer. Also glad to see that people aren't so set in their ways that they can understand that a variety of cultures and circumstances exist in the world; rather than the whole "That's wrong, attack the heretic" philosophy. SP, you give me renewed hope in humanity.

    I'm sorry, but in response to this, I can't help but say it. "Just because I'm insane, it doesn't mean I can't be a perfect gentleman." Note that I also consider sanity an opinion based on local cultural standards.



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